I am embarrassed to admit it, but I will. Upon first listen to John Prine’s In Person & On Stage, I was overrun with clichés, and, of course, the associated self-consciousness. And they ran through my mind like dirty laundry on a line: “They just don’t make ‘em like the used to,” “When they made John Prine, they broke the mold” … you get the embarrassing picture.
But the legendary songwriter embodies a legacy of classic songcraft that deserves far more than a cliché; he has influenced generations and finds himself in the company of names like Willie, Johnny, and Townes. Recorded over several years, In Person & On Stage finds Prine and his band rolling through some of his most well-known songs, sweetened by the local color of the songwriter’s humble, humorous banter. “Spanish Pipedream” and “She Is My Everything,” amble loosely, showing that all Prine needs is a guitar to light up a room. But the true treasures here are the guest artists that elevate the performance; Emmylou Harris adds a little heaven to “Angel from Montgomery,” and Josh Ritter brings warmth aplenty to “Mexican Home.”
John Prine is truly a classic. His repertoire stands on its own, but the man continues to approach his music with sincerity and vigor. In Person & On Stage plays like a rusted carousel, the gears are weathered and well-worn, but the ride remains familiar and smooth. John Prine is clearly not a cliché; he is a musician, artist and performer in the very truest sense.
In Person & On Stage is out now on OhBoy Records.